Spoiling the kids. That Big Black Hole that’s so hard to free yourself from … once you’ve been sucked into its bottomless vortex. It is so hard to strike a balance, isn’t it? You get sick and tired of your child with their sense of entitlement, which you know that you have fostered, constantly asking for more. Then discarding the new toy or piece of clothing within days – no longer meriting their interest.
That’s it. You’re done. No more new stuff.
|The questionable object of my 6 year old’s affection: “Shake It Up” sneaker boots, from Payless.|
Days later (Weeks later? Hours later??) you find yourself swinging the other direction. You see something you know they would love. It fun to give your child presents! It’s just something you want them to have and enjoy, purely because you are their parent and love seeing their eyes light up with excitement and (albeit fleeting) gratitude. Is that so wrong? Aaaand… and the cycle continues.
I love shopping with my 6 year old daughter. And I hate shopping with my 6 year old daughter. She can be persistent and quite challenging in that arena. In her defense, she was the only child for a good 5 1/2 year run. And all that that implies. So she’s still recovering from that overly indulgent experience somewhat, as she slowly gets more integrated with her new, unfortunate reality: “The family doesn’t really revolve exclusively around me”.
One tactic I’ve tried to focus on, for both her and myself, is the difference between NEEDS and WANTS. I think this is a good principle to remind ourselves of from time to time. Even now, but especially when things were very tight, during a stretch of unemployment … when we’d be in a store and she’d ask for (an unnecessary) something, rather than always respond “We can’t get that”, I tried to instead explain, “We don’t need that”. Again, when I say things like this – I’m lecturing myself as much as the child I’m speaking to.
So we head to the mall last weekend, because her baby brother needs a pair of shoes. He currently has one pair of shoes his size. One. And although he’s yet young, his activity repertoire is extensive enough that he could really use two different types of shoes. I explain this clearly to my daughter before we leave, outlining that this will be our sole purpose in our Mall Experience for the day.
But alas, while in a shoe store – she spots them. The very cool shoes that her friend at school has. She, of course, asks to get them. This quickly escalates to begging, and then even pleading. It doesn’t phase me much, because I really have no intention of buying them for her.
Finally, I bring out the Big Dog reasoning. “Honey, you already have sneakers, AND you already have boots. You don’t need those.”
“But I don’t have SNEAKER BOOTS!”
Yes, I guess they could best be described as sneaker boots. Truth be told, I’m honestly not sure how I feel about them. I can’t tell if I think they are way over the top for a 6 year old, or if they are funky and so ugly that they’re cute? It doesn’t matter. I’m still not buying them. And then she lays this adorable comment on me, spoken in a serious, reverent tone:
“Mom. In my heart, I know that it’s the right decision.”
How am I supposed to respond to that? At the end of the day, I decided to go with the tried and true, we’ll-wait-a-week-and-see-if-you-even-remember-you-want-this approach. So I guess the jury’s still out on the sneaker boots. Time will tell.